When my son was very, very small, there was a book we used to read to him. This book told the story of a mother and her a little boy who walked to a beach, across the dunes to the resting of the waves.
They looked for starfish; they had a picnic of sandwiches and pink lemonade.
Lying on their blanket, they had a nap.
At the end of that afternoon they walked home. And on the way, the book said, they saw the sun low in the sky, gleaming, a huge orange ball.
Then it was gone.
When we read this story the first time, he looked up and said
He became very upset.
Gleaming gone, gleaming gone!, he cried.
Yet, he wanted to read that book over and over. He named the book
When I think of that book (yep, no longer have it, lost in house fire), I keep thinking
gleaming gone, gleaming gone…like a mantra in my head, rhythmic, haunting.
I have a lump in my throat.
…a singsong reminder that things which burn brightly — we who burn brightly — have faded, are fading and will fade.
I am the morning at the beach.
I am the breeze and the sand and the dunes.
I am the afternoon and the picnic.
I am the pink lemonade.
I am the blanket.
I am the sand.
I am the nap.
(I need a nap.)
And on the way home, I am the huge orange ball.
I am the huge orange ball, gleaming.
I pass my days, I work, I live.
I help, I cook, I nourish.
At the end of my day…I walk home.
The sun is a huge orange ball.
I am gleaming.
And then gleaming.
Like the finest performance — a stage of colors and lights and song…the curtain must close.
The gleaming is gone.
But it is not gone forever.
The following day there will be another breeze…another lunch…
More pink lemonade.
And the sun a huge orange ball.
The cycle repeats over again, over and over.
I have a lump in my throat because of the sweetness.
Because of the innocence.
I have a lump in my throat because of the beauty.
Because of the idea that our lives are gleaming…they are shining.
They are sparkling.
Because of how one day there is sun — and one day it hides.
And it returns — how it shines.
I have a lump in my throat because it always, always, rises again.
I am moved because of the way that a day passes, a life passes…filled with color and breeze and huge orange balls and dunes — ups and downs and tides that rise and fall…
and rise again.
The days build like sand in a bucket.
Little bits of stone, one at a time…
nothing at all but sand beneath our feet, we hardly notice the days.
But over time, the bucket is full.
Full of beauty and parties and heartbreak and fevers and rainstorms.
Then it is time to return home.
And gleaming — gone.